The Gardiner's tree frog is one of the smallest frogs in the world, growing to only 11 millimetres in length (2). This species is endemic to the Seychelles, as its other common name (Seychelles frog) suggests (3). In colour, it is green to brown, and has a distinctive dark band extending from the mouth and below the eye to the hind legs. The fore-limbs are small, while the hind-limbs are long and muscular (3).
This species is terrestrial and nocturnal, and feeds on small invertebrates (6). Unlike most frogs, which lay their eggs in water, this species lays its eggs in small clumps on moist ground. The young do not hatch as tadpoles, but as fully formed small adult frogs. In other Sooglossidae species, tadpoles are carried on the female’s or male’s back until they metamorphose(7).
Most members of the Sooglossidae family are restricted to high altitudes, but the Gardiner’s tree frog is more adaptable and occurs in a wide variety of high and mid-altitude sites, favouring moist and deep littered rocky areas (2)(5).
Land clearance for agriculture, human settlement, timber and tourism are the main threats on the Seychelle Islands. The majority of the lowland forests have been disturbed or destroyed, and coconut, vanilla and cinnamon plantations now occupy most of the coastal plateaus (6). This habitat loss has contributed to the decline in numbers of this species in recent years. This species is now classified as Endangered by the IUCN (1).
The Seychelles Islands are considered as some of the most beautiful places on Earth and are extremely rich in terms of biodiversity. Many small reserves on the islands have been set up by the Seychelles Government and independent agencies to protect specific species and general habitat areas (3)(4). These efforts are important in the protection of the islands’ wildlife, though many species, including the Gardiner’s tree frog, still remain threatened (7)(8). Much of the range on Mahé fall within the Morne Seychellois National Park and conservation of Silhouette island is managed by the Nature Protection Trust of Seychelles (9).
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